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The winners of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge have been announced, and it’s a podium sweep for Nigerian tech entrepreneurs.
There were more than 800 applications from across the continent submitted following the announcement of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge in January, and that number had been whittled down to 20 top apps and services by last month. Fintech solutions from 7 African countries jostled for the top prize, a $10,000 cash reward, but Nigeria dominated the list with 8 submissions in the top 20.
The winners were unveiled at a ceremony in Lomé, Togo, last week.
The first position went to IroFit’s ZirooPay, a service which aims to simplify card payments for businesses. ZirooPay is a portable card reader that facilitates transactions involving MasterCard, Visa, Verve and Discover cards, be they debit, credit or loyalty cards; all security features have also been factored in the tiny reader can anything from magnetic strip cards to the more secure chip and PIN cards. The card reader is paired with an Android app which records these transactions.
These transactions would usually require an internet connect to effect, but should such a connection be unavailable, ZirooPay will switch to the mobile network (GSM) to complete the transaction.
In time, ZirooPay hopes to add micro-credit services and inventory management to its raft of services.
Kudi.AI’s chatbot service was the first runner-up.
The service, which you can access via Facebook Messenger, Skype, Telegram, or through a browser interface, helps you sort out your utilities and buy airtime for yourself or others for a small fee; all you have to do is have a chat with her.
For this AI-powered service, Kudi.ai won a $7,000 cash prize.
The third position was won by Paylater.ng, which primarily provides short-term loans requisitioned through its Android app. Immediately after signing up, one can borrow up to ₦10,000; if your creditworthiness improves, then one can borrow as much as ₦1,000,000.
As third place winners, Paylater went home with $5,000 in cash.
While the other top 20 finalists didn’t win cash prizes, they are all part of the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, which guarantees that the bank will support them for at least one year, offering them technical assistance, startup funding, and facilitated access to the 33 African nations the bank operates in.